DID YOU READ

Richard Linklater and Jack Black talk “Bernie” and a “School of Rock” sequel

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By Jennifer Vineyard

A small-town funeral director kills the wealthiest widow around, stuffs her body in a freezer, and pretends she’s still alive so he can keep spending her money. Not only is that the plot of Richard Linklater’s latest comedy “Bernie” starring Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine, but it’s also a true story: Bernie Tiede is currently serving a life sentence in Texas for the murder of Marjorie Nugent, for which he’ll be eligible for parole in 2027.

But more than just ripping a story from the headlines, Linklater created the film as a fiction/documentary hybrid, in which the townspeople themselves help tell the story.

“I always thought of it as a drama with these locals as a kind of an East Texas Greek chorus, the way [the Warren Beatty film] ‘Reds’ has witnesses, too,” Linklater told IFC. “Other films do that, but a lot of this was just gossip, so it’s to tell the story via the gossips. In fact, they are played by a lot of real people from the area — the hairdresser, a neighbor, somebody who traveled with them, people who attended the church with them — but not all of them knew Bernie. Some of them just knew about it.”

“That would be a cool DVD feature,” Black said. “This person did know, this person didn’t know. It could be a game.”

The gossips have a unique spin on the murder because in the town of Carthage, Texas, Bernie was so incredibly popular, while Marjorie inspired new levels of hate — so much so that even after people knew about the murder, nobody wanted to blame Bernie for the crime, forcing the district attorney (played by Matthew McConaughey) to seek a change of venue for the trial. Matthew’s mom Kay even makes a cameo, playing one of the gossips who confronts the D.A.

“Can you tell by looking at her?” Black asked. “I didn’t know it was her, but she is one of my favorites. It really runs in the blood in that family. And you know, she’s really keen on getting something going, the two of us. We’re talking about doing some kind of side project. I don’t know if it’s going to be a movie or a band or what, but it’s going to be something. She’s got it.”

Because Bernie sang at church and funeral services, Black has quite a few gospel numbers in the film. “This felt like a musical to some degree,” Linklater said. It whetted the singer/actor’s appetite to put out a soundtrack of the material (“because the songs are so great, and I love singing the gospel”) as well as getting together with Linklater for that much-discussed “School of Rock” sequel.

“It’s not like this one had anything to do with that one, because music is the only thing they share,” Black said, “but really, I’d love to work with Rick again on ‘SOR’ or whatever.” Linklater, who was present, nodded yes. “That would have been a very awkward pause if he didn’t say yes!” Black laughed.

But when could that happen? After all, Mike White had a screenplay for the project at one point, but that idea seemed to have fizzled out.

“Whenever Tenacious D did interviews, people would ask us, ‘When is the next album?’ And we would just say, ‘Definitely the summer of 2012,’ as a joke, because it was so far away,” Black said. “But now, it is happening, and in that relative time frame, despite it being a fictitious date” (since “Rize of the Fenix” hit shelves May 15). “But I don’t see a movie happening for this one. I could see Tenacious D in an animated web series, having another adventure, but the union would frown upon Jack Black — sorry to use myself in the third person — they would frown upon first, second, and third person versions of myself, and fourth, on film. But the web series wouldn’t be until 2013.”

“School of Rock,” he said, wouldn’t be until 2020, because his “natural cycle” of working with Linklater is every eight years. “So look for us in 2020!” Black laughed.

“I feel lucky that after eight, nine years, we actually got to do this one,” Linklater said.

Linklater said he’s on a similar nine-year cycle with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, with whom he made the “Before Sunrise and “Before Sunset” films (and may still make a third in the series). “We’re calling it ‘More BS,'” he joked. “Or ‘Before Lunch.’ Nothing’s set it stone on that one yet, but it’s one of the least successful films ever made that spun sequels. How about ‘Before Breaking Dawn’?”

In the meantime, Linklater continues to shoot a few days a year with Hawke on a project alternately called “The 12 Year Project,” “Boyhood,” and “Growing Up,” in which the director chronicles a boy, played by Ellar Salmon, throughout his childhood (Hawke plays his father, and Patricia Arquette his mother). They’ve been shooting for ten years now, and Linklater estimates he’s got two more years left.

“That one is an intriguing process,” he said. “It’s a three day shoot, every year, at different times of the year. And we’re almost done.”

Chime in with your thoughts on this interview with Jack Black and Richard Linklater below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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